Friday, November 21, 2014

My Other Marine Corp Granddaughter

As many of you already know I have two granddaughters currently serving in the United States Marine Corp.

Nicole, Amber, and Warren
During her senior year of High School Amber Marie Haven, lived in Beaufort, South Carolina and graduated from Beaufort High School,
and during this time she lived with Joe, Nicole and Ava Bastian.

Nicole was already a Marine and stationed at Parris Island, she encouraged Amber to work out with her and by the time Amber enlisted in the Corp she was in good physical shape so the rough and tough physical training recruits endure was not quite as difficult.

Amber second row far right
on night maneuvers
She graduated Boot Camp April 23, 2010 as PFC Haven. She was promoted to PFC before graduation because during High School she was enrolled in ROTC for 3 years. She received a Sharpshooter medal and missed Expert Badge by one or two points. She said, “Don't worry Granny, when I get to take it again I’ll make Expert.”

This was another proud day for me and the rest of the family, Nicole ordered tee shirts with Amber’s name and Platoon 4012 for all of us to wear. Stormy and Warren were living in Beaufort at the time and we stayed with them for a great family time together, my only regret was Chuck was not with us to see her graduate! 

Nicole, Amber wearing Sharp Shooter Medal
and Bo wearing tee shirt

We had a family picnic on the base after a morning of parades and photos before graduation the next day. It was such an exciting time.

Amber and Charlie at the picnic

After Boot Camp she was transferred to MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) school in Maryland for Combat Camera.  She was promoted to Lance Cpl. Oct 1, 2010. Upon graduation from school she was transferred to Camp Pendleton.
When she did her Rifle Qualification at Camp Pendleton again she did make Expert. She has since received Expert 3 or 4 times now her last score was 334 out of 350.

She is now stationed at Miramar also in San Diego. While there, she has flown in Fat Albert during the MCAS Miramar Air Show on different occasions. Fat Albert is the Navy's Blue Angels’ C-130.

Fat Albert, by Wikipedia

Anthony and Amber
before Gladiator Run

Anthony and Amber on the Mudslide
 during the Run
She also does obstacle races on occasion, and not long ago participated in the Gladiator Run with her boyfriend, Anthony Dalo. 
Amber After Run

Anthony And Amber
after Run

She is the mother of Ayla Rose, one of my 6 great grandchildren.

I am very proud of both of my Marine granddaughters, and that so many of my family members have served in the military forces for the Freedom of our country, I am also sad; because our country is losing many of the freedoms we have all enjoyed as Americans for so long.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kevin Windham

The first I ever heard of Kevin Windham was after Chuck spent a weekend at the River on a fishing trip with our son-in-law Warren Villareal, our nephew Nick Barton and one of his submarine buddies Kevin Windham.

Nick and Kevin were active duty and serving together and stationed at Kings Bay Submarine Base, in Kingsland, Georgia. 

The guys had quite a weekend. Kevin was happy that he got to meet a dinosaur, an 'Old Navy' submarine sailor. Over the next few years I heard a lot about Kevin, but did not meet him personally for some time.

I can not convey to the reader how much this man means to me, or how much I deeply appreciate him! I will share my story and I am sure you will understand.

Chuck passed away on July 13, 1995 after a long, difficult battle with cancer which was caused from being exposed to asbestos for so many years. In trying to make funeral arrangements I was told by the Funeral Director that since we lived more than fifty miles from a base there would not be a Military service.

My heart was broken because this was Chuck’s wishes. Chuck was military to the core. I personally called three bases, Eglin Field, NAS in Jacksonville, and McDill, and was told the same thing by each, but that I could try the VFW.

Same story, I called several and was told by each that if he was not a member of their Post they would not.

My daughter Stormy called me early evening to see if I had been able to arrange it, and in tears, I told her no. She said, “Mother just stand by, if you want a Military service for Daddy, by-damn you’ll have one!”

She then called Nick who was out of the Navy by this time, he in turn called Kevin who was still active duty and stationed at Kings Bay Submarine Base in Kingsland, Georgia.

I don’t have a clue as to who he called or what he said, but in less than two hours after I spoke with Stormy, I received a call from a lady at Kings Bay Submarine Base. She said, “Ms. Haven I pulled your husband’s record, I just called to let you know there will be a detail sent from here to Cedar Key to honor your husband and he will have a Military service; just let me know the time!”

Nick called me later and said, “If no one else has offered yet Kevin would like to attend and pin his Dolphins on Uncle Chuck.”

I told him no one had, but I had not yet notified everyone, but it would be okay with me. I had never heard of this so I asked Nick about it and he said, “It’s just something submarine sailors do for their buddies who sail on Eternal Patrol.”

It touched my heart big time!

I called several of his shipmates and let them know when all the arrangements were made. Little John (Gene Courmier) arrived the next day from Vinton, La. He had served aboard the USS Grenadier SS 525 with Chuck.

We were sitting on the porch talking, and I asked him about this and he told me the same thing Nick had, then he said to his wife, “What was the last thing I told you to make sure is packed?” She answered, “Your Dolphins.”

He told me he had planned to pin his on Chuck, but since I had already had another submarine sailor, this would be fine with him.

On the day of the service it was raining, and it continued to rain all day. The military detail was there and they did a beautiful service, when they finished Kevin in his dress Whites pinned his Dolphins on the lapel of Chuck's suit; which was actually his dress Blues that he'd had the rate badge and hash marks removed from the sleeve, and he always told me he wanted to be buried in this suit, then Kevin stepped back and saluted Chuck.

Kevin Windham 

His Dolphins were sterling silver and they were special to him because they had been a gift to him from someone special. I am eternally grateful to Kevin Windham that he cared enough for Chuck to honor Chuck in this way, especially having never served aboard any Boat with him.

Kevin Windham retired as a Master Chief MT (E-9) after 30 years of service. I consider him one of the finest among Fine Submarine Sailor's!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hoyt Wallan Haven

Hoyt was Chuck’s only brother and he was eight years older, Hoyt was born February 10, 1921 in Sebring, Florida, Their Dad was a railroad man and at that time he worked out of Sebring.

They later purchased the property in West Lake Wales, which at that time was Lake Wales, they lived in a tent on the property till Papa and Mr Lamb built the first four rooms of the main house.

After Chuck was a little older he wanted to tag along wherever his big brother went, but big brother didn't like this very much. A great comic strip at that time was titled Worrywart, and it was about a big and little brother; so Hoyt started calling Chuck Worrywart.

Over the years Worrywart was shortened to Wart and to this day Chuck is known in Cedar Key as Wart by the older folks.

Hoyt always had a job of some sort and he did all the mechanic work on the cars that the family owned.
Hoyt and a lady friend Frances
He joined the United States Navy when he was 19 and served for thirty years before retiring. During WWII he served aboard P T Boats in the South Pacific. 

Not long ago I read a book titled “Sea of Thunder”.The author was Evan Thomas, in the book were maps of some of the battles in the Leyte Gulf. In one of the images it showed six PT Boats in that battle, he was aboard one of these six Boats in this battle.

He was never stationed aboard the same PT Boat as John F Kennedy, but the fleet of PT Boats was not all that large and he did know him personally. They were stationed on the same island much of the time.

After World War II ended, he served during the Korean Conflict, and then he was transferred to Turkey and he was there for a long time.

After Turkey he was transferred to Milton, Florida and he met the woman that he later married and she also had thirty years in the Navy when she retired. Hoyt retired as a Chief Auxillaryman.

When he retired he returned to West Lake Wales, and he and his wife Abby lived here until they both passed on.

Hoyt died of cancer April 10, 1976 in Lake Wales Hospital, as many servicemen have died from cancer because they are exposed to asbestos on a large scale during their years in service. Abby passed a few years later.

Left to right Walter Sterns Gussie Collins Haven Sterns,
Hoyt Haven, Bernice Collins , Grandma Minnie Collins
Hoyt loved Cedar Key, and visited every opportunity to fish and harvest oysters and other seafood for the family table. He never lived there though like Chuck did, but this is where he wanted to be buried because many of the ancestors are also resting here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spooky Thing Happened

This is one of my stories that I have no explanation for, just one of those spooky things that happens at times to almost everyone.

It was after Chuck passed away and I was living in the woods alone, I always kept my porch light on at night and I had a pit bull named Thor that was an excellent watch dog. He would always bark if someone came.

I was watching TV and I heard him snarling, and growling and then he started barking. I got up and opened the door and he was stretched out as far as he could on the rope I kept him tied with at night, he was raising hell and all the hackles on his back standing straight up. I looked in the direction he was facing.

Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou
It was a bright moonlight night and standing in the eve of the back porch stood a big man. He was dressed like a cowboy. He was wearing a black hat with silver broaches around the band, like the one Lee Marvin wore in Cat Ballou.

Silver Boots
He was also wearing silver cowboy boots, I could see the gleam of them in the moonlight. His right side was toward me. 

He was wearing a long black duster. The shadow of the hat brim kept me from seeing his face clearly.
A Cowboy in a Black Duster
I was shocked and I started to ask him who he is and what did he want, and then I thought to myself, you idiot, what are you doing? 

He is a stranger and you have no idea what his intentions are. I closed and locked the door. I slipped into my bedroom and got my loaded shotgun that I kept beside my bed.

I eased into my bathroom and slowly opened the window, feeling I was in a better position to ask him who he is and what he wanted. There was no one there. And by this time the dog had hushed.

I began feeling foolish and would have talked myself into thinking it was just wild imagination, but if I had imagined it, why would the
dog have raised such a ruckus?

Sleep did not come easy for me that night I was jittery and could not make my mind shut down. Eventually sleep came. The next morning I made my coffee and went out on the front porch to drink it.

Immediately I began thinking about last night, so I got up and walked around the house to where the cowboy had been standing, just knowing I would find those boot prints and I could track him back to where he came in from. Only one dirt road in about a quarter mile.

I was totally amazed, there were no boot prints in the sand, so it left me scratching my head. I could believe that it was just my imagination except for Thor’s reaction.

I have thought about it many times since, but have never figured it out. I choose to believe it was an angel, and yes they do sometimes appear as a cowboy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Saved By The Book

We had moved out to Big Coppitt Key in 1965.  Chuck had begun to have problems with his equilibrium when he was still at Fleming Key. He went to the dispensary one night and the Dr. on duty told him, "I can’t diagnose you with Vertigo, but I am sure that is your problem.

My father had it and I am very familiar with it. The only way you can be diagnosed with this is to eliminate everything that can cause dizziness. You need to learn how to rehabilitate yourself now in the way you move and do things."

By this time he had about 18 years in the Navy, and in his entire Navy career he’d had only one Captain’s Mass; which was for being late, but he was never late again, and he always went by the book from that day forward.

His marks were always 4.0 across the board during all this time. When he was promoted to Chief Petty Officer he was entitled to wear gold hash marks on his sleeve because of his outstanding record. He was called a “Fine Sailor”.

Still at Fleming Key, the Captain of U S Naval Air station came out one morning and told Chuck he wanted him to put the Jet boat in the water, Chuck said, "Sir I don’t have anything to do that with except the Cherry picker, and I don’t think the pad eye will hold."

I am not sure what a Cherry picker is, I just know it is a piece of heavy equipment that you move heavy loads with.

Again the Captain stated he wanted the Jet boat (a shallow water rescue vessel) in the water. Chuck said, "Sir you know that I have submitted three chits (formal requests) to have the pad eye tested and they were denied, and I do not think it will hold up."

The Captain said, "Chief Haven, if I give you a direct order to put that Jet boat in the water, you will obey the order, won’t you?"

Chuck, "Yes Sir I most certainly will and I would like you to put that order in writing."

He came home for lunch, and went back to work at 1:30 p m. As soon as he returned to work he hooked onto the Jet boat with the Cherry picker and as they swung the boat out over the dock, the pad eye tore out and the boat fell, it hit the dock and split the boat down the side. 

She would be out of commission till repairs could be made. He had to call and report this to the Captain, and by 1:50 p m he was relieved of duty at Fleming Key and transferred back to Boca Chica Naval Air Station to AMD Ground Support

His marks were lowered considerably and he was being threatened with early dismissal from the US Navy, had this happened his entire Navy career would have been in vain, down the drain, and he would have lost all medical and retirement benefits.

They made him sweat for nearly a month. He could not get an audience with the Captain to even discuss the situation. In his desperation he eventually decided to go back to Squadron 12 and have a talk with Commodore McGuiness. 

Chuck explained the situation to him, and the Commodore advised him to go back to the Office of the Captain and formally request a Court Marshall.  "Chief Haven, you write on the request that I will represent you and the Admiral will assist me, and I will also personally give him a call."

Chuck went back out to Boca Chica Naval Air and did exactly that. Just as suddenly as his marks had been lowered they were raised back up to 4.0 across the board and everything was squashed. No more threats of early dismissal. Had it not been for his previous outstanding record, and his always doing everything by the book it would have been a much different ending of this story. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What Is A Soldier

James Robert Adams
Military Photo
You have chosen to measure your life in moments,
For soldiers live only for today!
Tomorrow doesn't come for the soldier,
Death is only one step away.

You will train, you will drill,
You will fight and you will die
Yet perhaps someday you will pause
And you will wonder why.

Now the answer to this question
Is very hard to find,
For it’s little more than experiences,
Folded away in your mind.

It’s all the times you've stood and watched,
The sun slip from your sight,
Across those rows of crosses,
That stand so straight and white.

It’s all the times you've dreamed alone
And all the dreams you've shared
With that someone special,
The girl who really cared.

A Photo of His Medals
It’s standing in your uniform
Your mother by your side,
Knowing her eyes are filled with tears
Because her heart is filled with pride.

It’s those bright summer days of childhood
It’s those solemn winter days of age,
It’s all the blues of springtime,
It’s all the falls of beige.

This poem was written by my first cousin, James Robert Adams born June 6, 1942.  His name is on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D. C.  He graduated from West Point on June 07, 1967.  He was a 2nd LT. and commenced his tour of duty in Vietnam February 14, 1968 was KIA March 20, 1968 and he is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Because of how this poem is worded I think he might have written it sometime between graduation and shipping out to Vietnam.  His mother would have been at his side after the graduation ceremony with tears of pride in her eyes.

At what point he had visited Arlington National Cemetery, I have no clue unless it was when he visited my brother Neal occasionally who lived in Washington D C at that time.

Before he shipped out to Vietnam he visited my brother one last time and left a big trunk with him; to keep for him. Sometime after my brother moved to Key West, and it was several years after Jim was KIA, he opened the trunk and this poem was among the contents.

I sometimes wonder if my cousin Jim had a premonition of his death when he visited Arlington and that resulted in his writing this poem. There were several other poems in the contents of the trunk, but this was the only one that mentioned the rows of crosses in Arlington; which is now his earthly resting place.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bully Netting in Key West

Bully Net
With Aluminium Pole
I will explain to the best of my ability for those who do not know what this means because many will not know if I don’t explain. It is a type of dip net used to catch Florida Lobster. Sometimes called spiny lobster and some call them longusta or just gusters.

Ours was homemade with a wooden pole, used also just to pole the boat around. Picture it as being L shaped.When you saw a lobster you turned the pole up. Lines attached and you held the line and the bag upside down.

Place the bail over the lobster, and drop the bag while still holding the line. The lobster will always swim upwards and backwards. Then lift the pole up and the lobster is bagged. Then release the lobster into the live well.

Chuck and I loved to go bully netting on every slick calm night that we possibly could. Our two children were quite young and we made a comfortable bed for them under the bow cap. They slept while we poled around and caught lobsters. If there was the slightest ripple on the water you could not see them well enough to catch them.

Florida Lobster
Also Called Bugs
We kept plenty in our freezer, at that time there was no limit; except on the size of the lobster and we had a gadget to measure when we caught one. 

We didn't get a lot of slick calm nights in Key West so we had to take advantage of the ones that we did get. 

However over the years our children Stormy and Bo did a lot of sleeping under the bow cap of our boat.

We lived in Sigsbee Park Naval Housing with a canal behind our house that led out to open water. The nearest flats were the flats around Fleming Key and around the old Sea Drone that the Sea Planes had used as a landing strip when there had been an active Sea Plane Base here during WWII.

I always worked the spot light and Chuck worked the bully net. When I spotted a lobster; their eyes reflect red when the light shines in them, I could work it around in almost any direction I wanted it to go in. 

They did not like the light, they would try to ease around and crawl backwards to get out and stay out of it, so they were easy to steer as long as you didn't make a sudden move or noise.

One night when we were out we spotted one that didn't want to do what I tried to get it to do. It kept backing away, but we kept working it. Finally it decided to bolt and try to get away from the light.

It bolted right up onto the beach, and Chuck pushed the boat on up to the beach and stepped out and picked it up it was a really big one, the tail weighed about a pound. The tail is the only part we ate, these kind have no claws, they have antennae. We had lobster quite often and it was a great supplement to our food supply.

I prepared it in all kinds of ways. Sometimes I split the back hull and removed the meat, cut it in strips. Then dipped it in a tempura batter and fried it. Often I made a salad with it, this was Chuck’s favorite way to eat it, other times I just broiled it. Once in awhile I made a lobster thermidor.

All the years we lived there this was legal, and we could go almost anywhere. Today there are restrictions and some areas are closed completely. Like many things of the sea, the industry was greatly over-fished and things had to change. The most we ever caught in one night was five dozen. Most nights it would just be two or three dozen.

If we didn't find them crawling on the flats near the Sea Drone and Fleming Key we would venture out to other flats around what we called Christmas Tree Island, the island was built from spoil when the Navy dredged the channels deeper for the bigger boats. It's official name is Wisteria Island.

Wisteria or Christmas Tree Island

It was just a vacant island in those days; except for quite a few old wrecked boats and a lot of Australian Pine Trees, which is how it came to be called Christmas Tree Island.

Heart Shaped Sea Bean
These Came From the Rain-forest in
the Amazon
There was also another little Island near it, I don't remember its name, both were two of my favorite places to collect shells and sea beans.

These sea beans came from various plants in the rain forest in the amazon and various other places and floated in on the tides and wash ashore on our beaches all around Florida. I had quite a collection of sea beans and shells.

So if there isn't a lot of lobster crawling you just enjoy the wonderful display of nature.You see a lot of sea creatures at night that you don’t see during the day.  

Backside of Christmas Tree Island
Horse Conch
Pronounced Conk
One of the nights when we had gone out to Christmas Tree Island we found one of the largest horse conch shells either of us had ever seen on the backside of the Island. 

Chuck was able to dip it up with the net and I kept that shell for many years.

We would see all kinds of tropical fish as well as very large fish such as Red Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper and numerous others. The water is so clear you can easily see the bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water.